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Mark Spano

Spectacular beauty, epic human struggle, the depth and diversity of culture – these are among the many facets of the island of Sicily that students will discover during a continuing educating course conducted by filmmaker Mark Spano. Based largely on Spano’s new feature-length documentary film “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife,” the course is being offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at NC State University, Duke University, and UNC-Wilmington in February and March.

“But for crime, Sicily has gone largely unexplored,” said Spano, whose family heritage is Sicilian. (He holds dual citizenship.) “Yet Sicily is more fascinating and diverse than other Italian regions and few places compare to Sicily for a story of spectacular beauty, epic human struggle, depth and diversity of culture, philosophic insights and historic sites.”

The island’s great natural abundance and its strategic location in the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia, have made it “the most invaded place on the planet,” said Spano, who spent months in Sicily during the making of his film. “So ownership of this rugged and fertile terrain has been contested for millennia. Few people realize that Sicily rivals Greece and Egypt as a primary source for Western ideas.”

Along with screening his film, Spano will lecture on his family homeland and facilitate class discussions. His recommended reading for the course is Peter Robb’s Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra (ISBN: 978-0312426842).

At NC State University, the course is entitled Re-imagining Sicily: Land of Love and Strife (page 10). It will be held on Fridays, February 9, 16, and 23, from 9 to, 10:30 a.m., in the McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman Street in Raleigh. The course fee is $35.

At Duke,  Reimagining Sicily: Land of Love & Strife will be held on Thursdays, March 1, 8, and 15, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 West Cornwallis Road, Durham. The fee is $30.

At UNC-Wilmington, Film and Discussion –  Sicily: Land of Love and Strife  (page 6) will be held as one session on Friday, March 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the OLLI center at 620 S College Rd, Wilmington. The fee is $30.

About the instructor: Mark Spano is a writer and filmmaker. Among several others, his films include “The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell.” He is also the author of five works of fiction and a memoir. His critically acclaimed novel Midland Club is available on Amazon. His next novel, Kidding The Moon, is due out in 2018. He lives in rural Orange County, NC. For more information, visit markspano.wordpress.com/.

About OLLI: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is a university-led and member-supported organization that provides lifelong learning opportunities for adults aged 50 and older in the southeastern North Carolina region. Through educational and experiential programming, OLLI connects the adult and university communities. Founded by philanthropist Bernard Osher in 1997, OLLI is offered at 120 institutes, including Duke, NCSU, and UNC-W. For more information: www.osherfoundation.org/.